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definition - Unforgiven

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film poster by Bill Gold
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Produced by Clint Eastwood
Written by David Webb Peoples
Starring Clint Eastwood
Gene Hackman
Morgan Freeman
Richard Harris
Music by Lennie Niehaus
Cinematography Jack N. Green
Editing by Joel Cox
Studio Malpaso Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s)
  • August 7, 1992 (1992-08-07)
Running time 131 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14.4 million[1]
Box office $159,157,447

Unforgiven is a 1992 American Western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood with a screenplay written by David Webb Peoples. The film tells the story of William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had hung up his guns and turned to farming. A dark Western that deals frankly with the uglier aspects of violence and the myth of the Old West, it stars Eastwood in the lead role, with Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris.

Eastwood dedicated the movie to deceased directors and mentors Don Siegel and Sergio Leone. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Hackman), and Best Film Editing. Eastwood himself was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, but he lost to Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman. In 2004, Unforgiven was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The film was only the third western to win the Oscar for Best Picture following Cimarron (1931) and Dances With Wolves (1990).



A group of prostitutes in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, led by Strawberry Alice (Frances Fisher), offers a $1,000 reward to whoever can kill Quick Mike (David Mucci) and "Davey-Boy" Bunting (Rob Campbell), two cowboys who disfigured Delilah Fitzgerald (Anna Levine), one of their own. This upsets the local sheriff, Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman), a former gunfighter and now an obsessive keeper of the peace who does not allow guns or criminals in his town. Little Bill had given the two men leniency, despite their crime.

Miles away in Kansas, the Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), a boastful young man, visits the pig farm of William Munny (Clint Eastwood), seeking to recruit him to kill the cowboys. In his youth, Munny was a bandit who was notorious for being a vicious, cold-blooded murderer, but he is now a repentant widower raising two children and has sworn off alcohol. Though Munny initially refuses to help with the assassination, his farm is failing, putting his children's future in jeopardy. Munny reconsiders a few days later and sets off to catch up with the Kid. On his way, Munny recruits Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), another retired gunfighter who reluctantly leaves his wife (Cherrilene Cardinal) to go along.

Back in Wyoming, gunfighter English Bob (Richard Harris) and his biographer, W. W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek), arrive in Big Whiskey, also seeking the reward. Little Bill and his deputies disarm Bob, and Bill beats him savagely, hoping to set an example for other would-be assassins. The next morning Bob is ejected from town, but Beauchamp decides to stay and write about Bill, who has impressed him with his tales of old gunfights and seeming knowledge of the inner workings of a gunfighter's psyche.

Munny, Logan and the Kid arrive later amid a rain storm and go to the saloon/whorehouse to discover the cowboys' location. Munny has a bad fever after riding in the rain, and is sitting alone in the saloon when Little Bill and his deputies arrive to confront him. Little Bill has no idea who Munny is, and after finding a pistol on him he beats him brutally and kicks him out onto the street. Logan and the Kid, upstairs getting "advances" on their payment from the prostitutes, escape out a back window. The three regroup at a barn outside of town, where they nurse Munny back to health.

Three days later, they ambush a group of cowboys and kill Bunting – although it becomes apparent that Logan and Munny no longer have much stomach for murder. Logan decides to return home while Munny and the Kid head to the cowboys' ranch, where the Kid ambushes Quick Mike in an outhouse and kills him. After they escape, a very distraught Kid confesses he had never killed anyone before, and renounces the gunfighter lifestyle. When Little Sue (Tara Frederick) meets the two men to give them the reward, they learn that Logan was captured by Little Bill's men and tortured to death, but not before giving up the identities of his two accomplices. The Kid heads back to Kansas to deliver the reward money to Munny and Logan's families, while Munny drinks half a bottle of whisky and heads into town to take revenge on Bill.

That night, Logan's corpse is displayed in a coffin outside the saloon. Inside, Little Bill has assembled a posse to pursue Munny and the Kid. Munny walks in alone and promptly kills Skinny Dubois (Anthony James), the saloon owner and pimp. After some tense dialogue, a gunfight ensues, leaving Bill wounded and several of his deputies dead. Munny orders everyone out before stopping Little Bill from reaching for his pistol. Bill curses Munny before the latter finishes him with a final gunshot. Munny then threatens the townsfolk before finally leaving town, warning that he will return if Logan is not buried properly.

The final scene is a bookend shot of Munny's farm, and of Munny paying a final visit to his wife's grave. The epilogue text that follows reads that Munny and his family were rumored to have moved to San Francisco and "prospered in dry goods".



The film was written by David Webb Peoples, who had written the Oscar-nominated film The Day After Trinity and co-wrote Blade Runner.[2] The concept for the film dated as far back as 1976 under the titles The Cut-Whore Killings and The William Munny Killings.[2] Eastwood delayed the project, partly because he wanted to wait until he was old enough to play his character and to savor it as the last of his western films.[2] Much of the cinematography for the film was shot in Alberta in August 1991 by director of photography Jack Green.[3] Filming took place over 52 days between September and October 1991.[4] Production designer Henry Bumstead, who had worked with Eastwood on High Plains Drifter, was hired to create the "drained, wintry look" of the western.[3]


Unforgiven received universal acclaim. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes registers a "Certified Fresh" 97% approval rating among reviews. Many critics acclaimed the film for its noir-ish moral ambiguity and atmosphere. They also acclaimed it as a fitting eulogy to the western genre. Jack Methews of the Los Angeles Times described it as "The finest classical western to come along since perhaps John Ford's 1956 The Searchers." Richard Corliss in Time wrote that the film was "Eastwood's meditation on age, repute, courage, heroism – on all those burdens he has been carrying with such grace for decades."[5]

However, the film was not without its critics, including Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert; though the latter still gave it a positive vote, both criticized the picture for being too long and having too many superfluous characters (such as Harris's English Bob, who enters and leaves without ever meeting the protagonists). Ebert did, however, eventually include the film in his "Great Movies" list.[6]

  Home media

Unforgiven was released on February 21st, 2012 on Blu-ray Book. Special features include film commentary by Clint Eastwood biographer Richard Schickel, four documentaries that include "All on Accounta Pullin’ a Trigger," "Eastwood & Co.: Making Unforgiven," "Eastwood...A Star" and "Eastwood on Eastwood," and more.[7]

  Box office

The film debuted at the top position in its opening weekend.[8][9] Its earnings of more than $13 million on its opening weekend was the best ever opening for an Eastwood film.[5] Unforgiven eventually earned $160 million worldwide in ticket sales, $101 million in the United States alone.[10]


  Academy Awards

Award[11] Person
Best Picture Clint Eastwood
Best Director Clint Eastwood
Best Editing Joel Cox
Best Supporting Actor Gene Hackman
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration Henry Bumstead
Janice Blackie-Goodine
Best Actor Clint Eastwood
Best Cinematography Jack N. Green
Best Sound Les Fresholtz
Vern Poore
Rick Alexander (as Dick Alexander)
Rob Young
Best Original Screenplay David Webb Peoples


In June 2008, Unforgiven was listed as the fourth best American film in the western genre (behind The Searchers, High Noon, and Shane) in the American Film Institute's "AFI's 10 Top 10" list.[12][13]

The film makes an appearance in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies. In 2005, Time.com named it one of the 100 best movies of the last 80 years. It was also admitted to the National Film Registry in 2004.

The music for the Unforgiven film trailer that appeared in theatres and on some of the DVD's was composed by Randy J. Shams and Tim Stithem in 1992.[citation needed]

American Film Institute recognition

In 1992, the film poster designer, longtime Eastwood collaborator Bill Gold, won the prestigious Key Art award from The Hollywood Reporter.[14]



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